Sports Check Blog

Area AD’s: Embrace boys volleyball

This is an open letter to the athletic directors from Elkhorn Area, Delavan-Darien, Badger and Waterford high schools.

In terms of fielding a boys volleyball team, what are you waiting for?

This fall, new boys volleyball programs have popped up in Union Grove and Wilmot. The Panthers and Broncos are following in the exemplary footsteps of Burlington and Westosha Central, who not only have teams but have really, really good teams.

So good, in fact, that the Falcons have advanced to the state tournament several times, including appearances in 2010 and 2011.

Most recently, Burlington had a magical run last year. The Demons made it all the way to the state championship game before falling. It was the furthest any area team has advanced and probably the furthest of any team not in the immediate Milwaukee area.

SPORT CHECK LOGO web“It feels great to be starting a program that I hope will build into a legacy here at Wilmot,” said Wilmot coach Mike Kamholz. “(Practices have gone) surprisingly well. The kids all have great attitudes and are some of the hardest workers I have ever seen.”

Both Wilmot and the Grove will have to play only on a junior varsity level this season per WIAA rules. Next year, it can be a full-blown varsity with teams at the junior varsity level as well.

When Burlington introduced boys volleyball in 1997, it was an exciting new sport. So exciting, in fact, that several of my football teammates left the gridiron for the volleyball court. Fewer collisions, fewer players on the court, more opportunities to star, right?

Schools like Badger, Waterford, Delavan and Elkhorn have rich football traditions and I’m guessing the biggest deterrent to starting a volleyball squad is the impact it will have on the football program.

Badger and Waterford contend for the football title each year, and they pride themselves in numbers. Football starts at a young age with youth teams and becomes a staple by high school.

It’s the same thing with Delavan and Elkhorn. Not only do they have strong football teams, they have above average boys soccer teams. Both programs have sent soccer teams to state in the last decade or so.

This brings me to the basketball players. If they’re only committed to hoops, it’s only natural that they could play volleyball in the fall. Eric Gerber, Carson Biedrzycki and Tyler Galstad are just a few of the long line of former Demons who did basketball and volleyball.

Volleyball is a sport that deals with teamwork, quickness and jumping ability. You have to scale that net in order to slam home a kill, and the people with the most hops tend to stand out. However, defensive specialists and setters utilize their quickness and passing ability to succeed.

Ideally, Burlington, Westosha, Wilmot and Union Grove will one day be joined by Badger, Delavan, Elkhorn and Waterford to form the Southern Lakes Conference.

Currently, Westosha and Burlington play in the Southeast Conference. The 10-team league features Racine Case, Kenosha Tremper, Franklin, and Kenosha Indian Trails among others.

By default, Wilmot and Union Grove would join the conference next year. Right now, there are only eight boys volleyball conferences in the state, so the sport is fairly new at the high school level.

However, since its inception in ’97, Burlington has made it to state four times (2001, 2004, 2005) and almost won it in 2012.

Central advanced to state and won a match at state in both 2010 and 2011.

The area talent is there, and with two more teams jumping on board, the rest of the SLC needs to catch on.

Understandably, AD’s worry about numbers and losing quality in the football and soccer programs. But why not have another team of solid athletes and have another chance to compete on the state’s highest platform? With full volleyball, football and soccer programs, you’re looking at nearly 200 male student-athletes in the fall instead of 140 or 150.

That has to be good for the athletes and the future of the school. More athletes and more teams mean more exposure, more options and yet another reason to attend your school. With open enrollment, a kid interested in volleyball may drive to your school just so they can play.

In closing, please step up and do the right thing: Add a boys volleyball program for the 2014-15 fall season.

Administration, parents and students will thank you for years to come.



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